On April 3 NJPSA testified before the State Board of Education on newly proposed regulations in light of the enactment of the TEACHNJ Act. This was stakeholder’s first opportunity to weigh in on the code proposal.
Avoiding Role Conflicts
NJPSA raised several concerns with the code proposal’s inadvertent confusion as to evaluative responsibilities urging the Department to avoid utilizing “observer” or “people” in place of “supervisor” to ensure that districts are clear as to who is authorized to conduct evaluations consistent with the TEACHNJ Act.
Certification Constitutes Proof of Mastery
The Association also objected to language that attempts to require “proof of mastery” via assessment on an evaluation model to “demonstrate competency in observation.” Arguing that teaching staff members possessing supervisory credentials hold the requisite expertise to evaluate staff – this expertise flows from their successful attainment of their license – not a vendor developed evaluation model assessment NJPSA provided the Department language changes to address this issue within the code proposal.
Ensuring Stakeholder Input
NJPSA also urged the Department to establish a State Advisory Body to ensure ongoing dialogue around implementation and maintenance of evaluation efforts State-wide. This body similar in structure to the initially established Evaluation Pilot Advisory Committee (EPAC) would serve as a sounding board to and for the Department providing direct input on any evaluation system changes including the adjustment of weights and other parameters as contained within regulation.
Sadly the code proposal would permit the Department to unilaterally modify the percentage weights for teaching staff members’ evaluation in future years. The regulation would also singly confer upon the Department the authority to establish the annual number of “administrator goals.”
NJPSA argued the advisory body work with the Department around the development of future goals. We also urged proposals be brought before the State Board of Education for discussion public / stakeholder input and periodic review.
A Need for Phase In
Finally NJPSA raised concerns with the timing and limited diagnostic information available to educators to improve instruction in the use of student growth percentile data (student growth percentile) (SGP). Arguing that impending test changes wrought by the introduction of common core assessments heightened this concern NJSPA recommended the phase in of SGP over the next several years. We also raised similar concerns around current district capacity to develop student growth objectives (SGO) for educators as required by the code proposal by next school year.